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Students walking to schools after reopening in Meghalaya.

While All Schools Across India Reopen, Manipur Government is Yet to Decide

After eighteen months into the COVID-19 pandemic forced all educational institutes to close, schools in almost all the states and union territories of India have reopened while there is no a clear decision yet from the Manipur Government about the reopening of schools.

As the COVID-19 has declined, the states of Uttarakhand, Punjab, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Nagaland, and Tripura have reopened schools either in early August or late August.

Eight states apart from the national capital expanded on September 1 the resumption of schools for students with strict guidelines on social distancing and sanitising

In Uttar Pradesh, schools have reopened for classes 9 to 12 after a decline in Covid-19 cases from August 16. In the meantime, it has been made mandatory to follow the Covid-19 rules. Schools from class VI to VIII were also scheduled to open in UP from August 24.

Schools in Bihar have reopened for classes 1-8 from August 16. However, classes are being held with 50 percent attendance and only on alternative days. Earlier schools from 9th to 12th were opened in the state.

The States of Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya resumed classes from September 1.

The Goa government has reopened the schools for physical classes for students from 9 to 12 from October 18, 2021.

Schools in Jammu and Kashmir have reopened classes for at least classes 10 and 12.

Himachal Pradesh Schools have reopened from October 11, 2021 from class 8 onwards. Schools have already resumed physical classes in the state for classes 9 to 12 from September 27, 2021 with strict adherence to the SoPs missed by the government to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

The Kerala government has decided to reopen the schools from November 1, 2021. With Covid-19 cases at the lowest, the Kerala government has decided to re-open its schools from November 1, 2021, with strict Covid-19 guidelines.

The West Bengal government is also preparing to reopen school soon. Government and government aided schools in Kolkata as well as the state are gearing up to carry out the repairs and renovation so that they are prepared if the government decides to open schools anytime soon.

Schools in Assam resumed physical classes for class 9 from October 1, 2021 with strict COVID-19 protocols such as maintaining strict physical distancing, wearing masks, sanitization of buildings, and others.

Meanwhile, the Assam government has allowed the schools to resume physical classes for class 10 from September 20, 2021. Further, physical classes have also started for class 12 students in the state from September 6, 2021. Classes 1 to 8 and 11 resumed physical classes from October 19, 2021, in the state.

The Assam government order said that students should note that while physical classes would resume in the state, online classes would still continue for the students. Thus, those who do not want to attend physical classes would be given the option to do online classes. The decision to reopen educational institutions in the state has been taken after a decline in the number of COVID-19 cases in the state. The total number of active COVID-19 cases in the state is 4,587 cases.

All schools in Meghalaya resumed classes from October 1, 2021 following a notification released on September 29 by the Meghalaya government. Reports said, in the notification, it was stated that the schools for Class I to Class XII are permitted to reopen in rural areas. However, in urban areas, only school visits and online classes will be permitted for students from Class I to Class V, while regular classes will resume for Class VI to Class XII.

Nagaland schools resumed classes from August 2 for classes 11 and 12 while classes from 5 to 10 are resumed from October 1.

Tripura schools resumed school classes from August 25 for classes 6-12 while classes 1-5 are reopened from September 13.

Arunachal Pradesh schools reopened classes for 9-12 from September 1 while classes 1 to 8 are reopened from September 13.

Sikkim schools for all classes are reopened from October 18. Earlier, the State government had opened schools for students above Class 9 from October 1.

In a notification released on October 12, it mentions, “All state government, government-aided, and private educational institutions, will reopen from October 18, for students of lower kindergarten to Class 8, also. Initially, only 50 per cent of students should be called on alternative days with parental consent, which shall be further increased based on the monitoring of the situations.”

In Mizoram more than 376 schools in COVID-19 free areas have been reopened from August this year.

It may be mentioned that UNICEF contributed to a multi-agency Framework for School Reopening to provide practical and flexible advice for national and local governments and aid their efforts to return students to in-person learning.

UNICEF says, “This is a crisis we will not allow the world to ignore. Our channels are silent, but our message is loud: Every community everywhere must reopen schools as soon as possible. Schools must be the last to close and the first to reopen. We have to start putting the best interest of every child first. In all but the most extreme cases, this means getting students back into the classroom.”

Closure of educational institutions particularly schools for about 18 months through two academic sessions have affected the children not only scholarly but also non-scholastically. It affects the attitudes and behaviours of the children even to the extent of socialisation process of this generation. We all know that educational institutions particularly school are not only learning centres of knowledge but also many life skills which need to be learned in the particular biological age of children.

Now, Manipur is the only state in India which has not a clear policy about reopening of schools and the only state in the Northeast which is not yet ready to reopen schools while the positivity rate of COVDI-19 is 3.37% as on October 22 while the active cases are 906 only. Manipur Government should take a decision to reopen the schools to save the students at the earliest.

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